During these current times, we think it goes without saying that we could all use something beautiful to be inspired by right now. With all of the ongoing bad news, uncertainty, feeling stuck at home, and trying to remain hopeful for tomorrow, everyone could definitely use some inspiration and whimsy to brighten their days so our team at the Utah Microloan Fund want to show off a client who brings nothing but beauty to their work. Who is this ray of sunshine? Designer Mr. Michael Ryan Andolsek, creator of ANDOLSEK, a couture fashion label created right here in Utah.
At the age of 19, Michael Andolsek was accepted into Parsons Paris The New School For Design after attending Salt Lake Community College’s Fashion Institute. During his time at Parsons, Michael had the opportunity to be mentored by Cecile Pelous, a retired Mater Draper for notable couture houses like Christian Dior and Nina Ricci. Michael's talent then earned him an acceptance into the prestigious École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. He was one of three Americans accepted that year. A huge deal!
With an ongoing focus of providing women with timeless yet modern apparel, the label is unique in that its designer and his team live with Autism Spectrum Disorder and work to sustain themselves through this company. Keep reading as we interview Michael and learn about his process, his incredible background and more about our May Business of the Month!
UMLF: What inspired you to start your own fashion line?
MRA: Clothing has been of great interest to me, and I decided to study fashion design in school. After returning home from Paris, where I did just that, launching my line seemed like an appropriate next step.
UMLF: When did you first know you wanted to be a designer?
MRA: At age fifteen, my best friend would frequently show me fashion magazines. The apparel in these magazines was exciting and completely different from the clothing worn by the people around me. It was like a whole new world opened up, and until then, I had focused on drawing castles and flowers, but all of a sudden, sketching clothes now became a thing for me.
UMLF: Tell us about your process behind designing a collection, where do you start?
MRA: Sometimes, I need to start with a silhouette and then draw until I'm pleased. That is often the process when working with a client looking for something in particular. Textiles, trims, and notions, however, give me a lot of ideas, so I usually start from there, and then plans for things pop up.
UMLF: The Andolsek Company hires interns and fosters a safe, comfortable environment for people with autism to work, explore, and learn about the fashion industry. You have a lot of awesome initiatives and projects that benefit autism awareness as well. How has your own personal journey with autism shaped your label?
MRA: Firstly, thank you very much! I am glad you like what we've been up to lately. My journey as a human is ongoing, and yes, I'm on it with autism, so it probably impacts everything I do. Specifically, at ANDOLSEK, any input or direction I provide based on my point of view means it somehow has autism attached to it. You can view more about our mission here: www.andolsek.com/autism
UMLF: Every business has its highs and lows. Tell us about a challenge you faced as a small business owner and how you overcame it?
MRA: My education was on design and fashion and not entrepreneurship. Developing and refining a business side to my thinking to coexist with my designer side has been tremendously challenging. I like clothes, not commerce. However, as a business owner, I have to acknowledge that they go hand in hand in order for the company to succeed.
UMLF: How do you believe the Utah Microloan Fund has helped you and your business?
MRA: Well, the funding you provided was instrumental in the launch of my business, so that was a great help!
UMLF: And for fun, what is one current fashion trend you love and one you absolutely hate?
MRA: It is becoming more and more difficult for me to distinguish trends and fads from lasting style approaches because it seems that anything goes. What was once a trend that I wish would return is the wearing of gloves. Life's probably easier without them, but they look so darn good.